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Media Club of Ottawa      quil-pen  
Formerly the Canadian Women's Press Club                             

the Media Club of Ottawa presents monthly programs of significance
to professionals in all branches of the communications field. 
Our program offers a stimulating variety of speakers.

Qais-Ghanem                  Dani-Elle                     Katelin Belliveau Bruce-MacGregor
Alexandra-Pope - speaker            Qais-Ghanem - speaker                                  Amira Eghawaby - speaker                                  Dani-Elle Dube - award winner                           Katelin Belliveau - award winner                                                                          Bruce-MacGregor - speaker

History-------------------- ------------- Events------------- -----------The Galley---------- -------Year in review ----------Subscribe------- -----------Members---------

April-May 2021

COVID-19 restrictions

Our program has been switched  to
publication of articles by our scheduled speakers on their topic

Publication date:
Tuesday April 20, 2021


News capsule

Ainalem Tebeje
The Zoom Virtual Readers Theater group of the First African Methodist Episcopal (FAME) church, in Los Angeles presented
a reading of Ainalem Tebeje’s book, A Love Story In Broken English, on July 9, 2020. If you missed it you can watch the presentation on the church’s link -
Ainalem spoke to the Media Club about her book in October 2018 shortly after it was published. You can read a report about her talk on the Media Club website

Susan Korah
In addition to her regular freelance writing assignments Susan Korah participated in a project aimed at helping spread the word about important health information to some of the world’s most vulnerable people during the COVID-19 pandemic. In conjunction with her friend, Swedish journalist Nuri Kino who initiated the project, Susan helped produce a u-tube video designed for the benefit of refugees, migrant workers and other marginalized people who haven’t mastered the language of their country of residence and therefore have limited or no access to important health information during the COVID-19 crisis. The video has also been shared with associations, government departments and individuals working with new Canadians.

June Coxon
An article about Susan Korah's project appeared in the June issue of Sandy Hill’s community paper,  A similar one, highlighting opera singer Maria Knapik, featured in the video, was printed in the September issue of
, Vistas, the Alta Vistas’ community paper. Both articles were by June Coxon

Kate Allen
Our out-of-town club member Dawn Monroe.
sent us the sad news that Katherine Allen has died. Kate was a club member for many years while living in Ottawa and after moving to Toronto. Dawn says she learned the news from Kate’s daughter, Heather, who said her mother had been ill for a couple of years with PSP, a rare brain disorder that can rob a person of speech. A recent Ottawa Citizen obituary said there will be a celebration of life for Kate once everyone can meet together again. Kate was an artist, columnist and the author of four books. She illustrated a number of notecards featuring some of the women on Dawn Monroe’s Famous Canadian Women website.

Dawn Monroe

Dawn now has well over 3,000  mini biographies on her Famous Canadian website. She was scheduled to speak to club members in June 2020 about creating that website,  but was unable to do so because of COVID-19 restrictions. Instead, she wrote about it for us. You wil  be able  read her report in the near future.

Qais Ghanem

Qais, who was to speak to our group in April,  was featured in a column in the June 2020 issue of community newspaper Vistas. The two-page column Our People by Courtney Tower appeared on pages 11 and 12. If you missed it you may find it online at 

Don Monet
Although this news is old now CUBE Gallery, owned and operated by Don Monet and Becky Rynor,  closed May 12, 2019, after nearly 15 years of operation. It first opened on Hamilton Avenue in 2005 before moving to the Wellington Street location. Numerous events and exhibits featuring local artists, including a retrospective featuring club member Shirley Van Dusen’s art in 2017, were held there. Don and Becky were both Media Club members for a number of years and Becky was club president in the 1990s.

Jagjeet Sharma
Local freelance writer, radio host, and poet. Jagjeet Sharma, published her third book of poetry this year, called Raindrops. As with her other books, proceeds from sales of this book go to the University of Ottawa’s Heart Institute.

The Media Club of Ottawa has co-produced an anthology about the pandemic with the Ottawa Ethnic Media Forum. The book contains articles, stories and poems written primarily by local authors. It was  published at the end of November 2020.


Meetings held in previous years:

The highlighted links below will show a list of speakers for the year 


Matt Wood                 Matt Wood speaks to us, virtually, in writing

 By Matt Wood
Matt Wood received a Margaret Graham Award from our club in 2003, when he was a journalism student at Algonquin College. He now works as Communications and Media Relations Manager at the University of Northern British Columbia.

 In 2003, I was in my early 30s, having transitioned away from my dream of becoming a musician and towards a lifelong goal of being a reporter, specifically a sports writer. I had just graduated from Algonquin College’s outstanding journalism program and was seeking employment. Fortunately, due in part to the Media Club’s recognition of my academic successes, I landed a job at the Ottawa Sun.

Gosh it was different back then. A 6 p.m. deadline, no social media considerations, no need to “live tweet” from an accident scene or the court house.  Heck, I only had a “pay as you go” cell phone for absolute emergencies. But the thrill of the job was very real. In my time I broke a couple of big stories (the provincial government forgiving the costs of road infrastructure to the new hockey rink in Kanata was one of my best I think). I also wrote some fun columns. I remember interviewing a New York fashion designer about the awful uniforms of the New York Islanders when the Senators were facing them in the playoffs. I got the New Yorker to admit that our fashion sense in Canada’s capital at least when it came to hockey was much stronger than the Big Apple.

Sadly there was no permanent job available at the Sun and when my wife and I found out we were expecting our first child we decided to move back to the hometown of our youth - Quesnel, British Columbia. My wife’s parents lived there, and a sports reporter’s job had just opened up at the local newspaper, The Observer ( a paper I’d delivered as a young boy) so it was a natural fit. In my first few months I excelled, pouring everything into my job. I won sports writing and photography awards, contributed a complete reimagining of local sports coverage, and helped the newspaper’s production team transition to a new-fangled digital layout tool (yes they were still actually “cutting and pasting” for the press!) and the publisher asked me to take on a new role.

This was when the value of relationship building began to hit home to me. I had always treated sources well and valued the back and forth relationship between a reporter and his “sources close to the minister,” but being the editor of a small town newspaper is a lesson in diplomacy, tact, patience and above all, relationships. Over the next two years we transformed the paper. We won awards, modernized the approach and developed the standard for the website publishing etc. We solidified the newspaper’s reputation as the local source for news.

In early 2005, the City Manager for Quesnel approached me at an event and said he was considering creating  a “communications” or “public relations” position at the city and asked if that was something that would be interesting. I told him there were likely several candidates in the City who would be interested and do good work. After a very thorough recruitment process, I was tapped for the job and started in the summer of 2005.

Working in Public Relations has a LOT of similarities with reporting. We tell stories, we shape opinion, we inform people, but above all else, we value friendships.

Very early at the City, I was approached by a couple of colleagues in Prince George, who were members of  CPRS*. “What’s that?” I asked, so they invited me to a meeting. Turns out it was the AGM. You know AGMs aren’t necessarily the most riveting occasions, but it was here that I first formed two friendships that have lasted more than 15 years now. And those friendships led to more contacts and I was afforded the ability to learn about my new job, my responsibilities from colleagues and friends. Some eight years went by at the City - we won awards, passed successful referenda, persevered through multiple election seasons (pay attention to local government folks - they’re important!). And throughout that time I continued to curate relationships and grow bonds with people that have lasted decades.

One of those early friendships I formed in Prince George was a person who worked for the University of Northern British Columbia (UNBC). He was the head of External Relations and a brilliant mind when it comes to communications, promotions, government relations, and more. My wife and I would often joke that Quesnel was as far north as we would ever want to live (we aren’t “winter people”) but I always kept in my mind that if anything ever opened up at UNBC, l would be interested - it’s only 120km farther north.

Sure enough, in 2013  I landed the job of Communications and Media Relations Manager for one of Canada’s best small universities. I was over the moon. I had learned a lot about relationships in my years as a reporter and now in public relations, and was pretty  excited about entering a new sector. Fortunately, thanks to my time in Quesnel, I already had some pretty established relationships with the regional media, so that element of the job was pretty straight-forward and thanks to my colleagues at CPRS*, I knew one of my new co-workers well, which made the transition into the office much easier.                                                                                                                                                                                          >>>

From there, I began meeting people in the University Community, from faculty members to students, alumni to staff, and I came to quickly understand that this was a community that can only be navigated one way - by forming effective relationships based on mutual understanding and respect. Largely that is what I have focused on over the past eight years, along with building and strengthening an outstanding team in the communications and marketing office.

To be clear, it has not been easy. We have had some turbulent times, from strikes to budget cuts, layoffs to leadership changes, but all that comes with the territory. Throughout that time though, no matter how contentious an issue, I have relied on my ability to value relationships, foster dialogue, and ethics. I am not a “spin doctor” or looking to”get out in front of things.” Rather, I am engaged in the profession of public relations, the “strategic management of relationships between an organization and its diverse public through the use of communication, to achieve mutual understanding, realize organizational goals and serve the public interest.”
(Flynn, Gregory And Valen, 2008)


Public relations has so enthralled me professionally that I have taken on several volunteer positions with CPRS. I started by working with the Northern Light Society, based in northern British Columbia, as their membership chair. That position reaches out to prospective members and works with current members too.

Guess what - relationships!  I eventually became president of the chapter and served  for more than 10 years on the executive. I have since turned my sights to national affairs and currently sit on the CPRS National Board of Governors. It is an honour to be part of such a progressive association.

I am sure you will see the theme in my writing here, that relationships have been key to my successes along the way since being a young reporter. At every step of the way they have influenced my decisions, helped me achieve great things and provided a wide range of options and viewpoints that have helped shape my understanding of the world today. Whether talking about such diverse topics as racism, land rights, the economy, arts, sports or the greatest movie of all time (it’s the original Star Wars and the discussion is now closed) relationships have allowed me to learn, to change my mind, and to become a better husband, father and person.

Without my early grounding in media, and the encouragement I received from organizations such as the Media Club of Ottawa, I would not be who I am today, and I am eternally grateful. I also want to give a special shout-out to June Coxon - June clearly understands relationship building. She even came to visit me on campus when her travels brought her to Prince George - Amazing!

I trust that some of this will resonate - I think those of us working in the ever-shifting media/media relations landscape face challenges like never before. Our attention spans are dwindling thanks to the never ending “push” of digital content. Demands from employers have grown, and the need to “feed the beast” grows and grows. The onslaught of new digital storytelling techniques, tactics and strategies is exceptionally challenging to keep up with.

But throughout it all, one thing remains constant, that will serve us all well in a rapidly evolving world. Say it with me folks: “The Force!”

No that’s not it.


There we go.

*Canadian Public Relations Society



Media Club of Ottawa
 Executive  2020-21
President,  June Coxon
Secretary-Treasurer. Iris ten Holder


Board of Directors:
June Coxon, 
Iris ten Holder,
Helen Bednarek Van Eyk

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